Mixed Responses in Venezuela over Claimed “State Coup” in Neighbouring Curazao

Differing responses have emerged in Venezuela over the designation of a new government in neighbouring Curazao, which was denounced as a “state coup” by the Caribbean island’s ex-prime minister Gerrit Schotte.


Mérida, 1st October 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Differing responses have emerged in Venezuela over the designation of a new government in neighbouring Curazao, which was denounced as a “state coup” by the Caribbean island’s ex-prime minister Gerrit Schotte.

Schotte left power yesterday after the new Prime Minister, Stanley Betrian, was sworn in on Saturday by Curazao’s interim governor, Adele Banderpluim Vrede. Vrede is the representative of the Kingdom of Holland in Curazao, which formally gained autonomy from Holland on 10 October 2010.

Schotte dissolved Carazao’s 21-member parliament on 3 August and scheduled fresh elections for 19 October after two members of his cabinet resigned, costing him his governing majority.

On Saturday he declared the new prime minister, Stanley Betrian, a “colonial figure,” and called the formation of a new government ahead of elections by the representative of the Dutch crown a “state coup”.  He further accused Dutch authorities and the political opposition on the island of “trying to prevent by force the realisation of democratic elections that are already convoked,” which he declared himself confident of winning.

In Venezuela, both pro-government and opposition figures have taken differing stances over the issue. Curazao, with a population of 150,000, sits just 50 km north of Venezuela’s western coastline.

The Venezuelan grouping of the Latin American parliament (Parlatino) released a statement yesterday in which it “strongly repudiates the parliamentary state coup that in the present moment is occurring against the legitimate government of Curazao, with the endorsement and complicity of Holland in its attempt to recolonize the island”.

Rodrigo Cabezas, the head of the Venezuelan Parlatino group and a representative of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), demanded “a declaration by international institutions, the CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) and democratic forces of the continent for the preservation of democratic life on the island of Curazao and recognition of the legitimate government [of Schotte]”.

He further called for guarantees so that the 19 October elections “take place without any kind of external intervention and that the democratic exit that only the people of Curazao can make happen is materialised”.

However, Lorenzo Angiolillo, spokesperson of international relations of PSUV President Hugo Chavez’s presidential election campaign, and former Venezuelan consul in Curazao, argued on Saturday that “with all due respect…there wasn’t a state coup in Curazao”.

He explained that with the loss of Schotte’s governing majority, the former prime minister had lost his mandate and created a “power vacuum,” and that following Curazao’s legislation the Dutch Crown’s governor had named an interim prime minister.

He instead suggested that it was right wing media sources which had attempted to create “international anxiety” by carrying headlines about a “coup” on the island. Speaking to Venezuelan National Radio (RNV), he speculated as to what the intention of such a campaign would be, “with a few days to go until the (Venezuelan) presidential election and with US bases in Curazao”.

Meanwhile, the pro-opposition blog “RunRuns” published an opinion piece today written by former Venezuelan diplomat Milos Alcalay in which he called the “coup” in Curazao “false news”. Blaming this “false news” on an interview with Schotte by Latin American news agency Telesur, Alcalay compared this with other supposed “false stories” such as coups in Paraguay, Ecuador and Honduras.

During the “institutional coup” in Paraguay in June this year, when the Paraguayan Senate deposed leftist president Fernando Lugo and replaced him with Federico Franco, responses within Venezuela were more clearly cut along political lines. Chavez and the PSUV strongly condemned the move and cut oil shipments to Paraguay in protest, while the Venezuelan opposition criticised Chavez’s stance as creating problems with “friendly countries” and “the Latin American community”.

The Dutch government has also defended the naming of a new government in Curazao as legitimate, stating that the role of the interim government was to “guarantee order in the 19 October elections, when the population of Curazao will have the opportunity to determine the political constellation”.